No necropsy for rotting Pebble Beach humpback

Pebble Beach Humpback Whale
Due to a troublesome location and the expenses associated with a necropsy, researchers may never know what caused a humpback whale to wash ashore on Pebble Beach last Saturday, July 29, 2017.

Scientists won’t be doing a necropsy on a humpback whale that washed ashore Saturday on Pebble Beach because of the whale’s location, the director of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories said Tuesday.

Director Jim Harvey said he was first told that a whale was washing ashore at 9:30 a.m. Saturday when the animal was near Carmel.

Later that day the whale came ashore on Pebble Beach, Harvey said.

Since a necropsy won’t be done, scientists won’t know how the whale died.

According to Harvey, the whale is a female juvenile humpback, 12 to 14 meters in length and weighing from 5,000 to 8,000 pounds. The whale is a year or a little more than a year old.

Because of the whale’s location, once a necropsy is started, parts would end up in the water and on other beaches, possibly angering neighbors.

Also, the whale is on a rocky coast so it’s not possible to get a crane or other large equipment to move it to a place where a necropsy could be performed.

Harvey also said doing a necropsy would be dangerous when the tide comes in because scientists would be standing in water with knives in their hands and the whale might shift in the water:

“It’s in a really difficult place.”

The combination of challenges raises the cost and his lab would be responsible for the cost of the disposal if scientists start a necropsy.

Harvey said the lab doesn’t have the money to dispose of the animal.

He estimated the cost of disposal would be $4,000 to $5,000.


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